Three Thermalright True Spirit Heat Sinks, Reviewed

Cooling Performance And Noise Level

Thermalright appears to offer a cooler for every budget in its True Spirit line-up. This round-up includes three to six heat pipes and 92 to 140 mm fans. We're including SilverStone's Argon AR01, which we recently tested as well, for comparison.

The thermal results are split into two charts to make them easier to read. The first one shows how far the CPU is above ambient, and the second one shows the total CPU temperature based on a theoretical ambient of 20 degrees Celsius.

Stock Clock Rate: AMD FX-8350 (125 W TDP)

As expected, the Thermalright True Spirit 140(BW) definitively outperforms its two smaller siblings. Dropping the fan speed to 1000 RPM on the 140(BW) and 120M(BW) doesn't hurt cooling effectiveness much, either. This isn’t really surprising, since both models have maximum stock fan speeds around 1250 RPM to begin with. Given smaller physical dimensions, the 90M is more dependent on high fan speeds, and is consequently impacted more when we try to dial it in for quiet running. It would fare better if we used it with a 95 W or less processor.

Depending on fan speed, the thin Thermalright True Spirit 140(BW) cooler keeps the AMD FX-8350 at 19.1 or 20.3 degrees Celsius above ambient temperature, which is a very good result. The 120M(BW) manages 22 and 24.9 degrees Celsius above room temperature, which is still quite solid. Even the 90M keeps up with the FX-8350 under full load. It's a viable alternative so long as its fan's 2000 RPM isn't a deal-breaker.

Overclocked: AMD FX-8350 At 4.4 GHz (At Or Above 180 W TDP)

The small True Spirit 90M just can’t cope with this 10% overclock, forcing us to leave it out of our second round of thermal testing.

This is where the Thermalright True Spirit 140(BW) shines. Its larger surface area allows it to put further ahead of the 120M(BW) than it did in the stock-speed benchmark. Keeping the processor at 30.9 degrees Celsius above ambient temperature with this high of an overclock speaks to the cooler’s solid performance. In fact, that's good enough to make a moderately aggressive overclock like 4.4 GHz viable for an everyday system. You could almost say the same for the 120M(BW)’s 35.6 degrees Celsius above ambient temperature.

Noise Level Benchmark

The acoustic results are similar to the thermal ones. Thermalright's True Spirit 140(BW) leads the pack with 38.1 dB(A) at 1232 RPM, which shouldn't be at all bothersome inside of a closed system. Its noise level drops to 36.1 dB(A) once we dial fan speed back to 1000 RPM. That should make it one of the quietest components in your case. Overall, the fan really doesn’t draw any attention.

Thermalright's True Spirit 120M(BW) doesn’t follow the 140(BW)’s good example. With 41 dB(A) at 1258 RPM and 37.4 dB(A) at 1000 RPM, plus noticeable vibrations thrown in for good measure, it’s usable if you force the fan down to slower rotational speeds, but that's about it.

The True Spirit 90M spins faster than any other cooling solution in our comparison. At 2002 RPM, you get a whopping 46.1 dB(A), and it also causes some vibration. This cooler should be alright for processors with TDPs of 95 or less, so long as you slow its fan down through an add-on controller or your motherboard's firmware.

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  • expl0itfinder
    I would love to see this compared against a wider selection of air coolers. For instance, the Cooler Master Hyper 212, or other fan favorites. Comparing it to 1 or 2 other brands does not give us a lot to look at.
  • Novuake
    A single other well known cooler for reference would have been great for easy context.
    Not all sites and reviews used Delta temps.
    Nice review but kind of renders it moot for comparison out of the Silverstone and THermalright Scope.
  • Someone Somewhere
    I think you got a bit lost on your graphs. At a guess, you meant to have one as distance from ambient, and one as absolute, or possibly there's idle readings.

    Also, please stick to the same units.

    More comparisons would have been nice.
  • SpadeM
    There are a few issues /omissions in the article, first being that the motherboard cap is only used on 939 sockets (i did an install for 970A-D3 AM3+ and it didn't require it) also the anchoring plate is flawed in my opinion because the screw holes that hold it in place aren't actually holes, but more live grooves on the outside of the plate and so the screws actually hold the plate in place with only half of their screw cap. And finally, for users that aren't experienced with multiple cpu heatsinks, tightening the final plate that locks the cooler in place ca very well damage your processor since there's no limiter in place.

    Other then that, those are some fantastic coolers, even though the thermal probe on FX-8350 under windows gives me flawed measurements in idle, under load it's quite good.
  • iam2thecrowe
    2000 rpm is noisy? i used to have a 6000rpm fan on my old athlon xp....... I think people these days are too picky about noise.
  • Someone Somewhere
    388413 said:
    2000 rpm is noisy? i used to have a 6000rpm fan on my old athlon xp....... I think people these days are too picky about noise.

    Diameter has a lot to do with it - it's more to do with tip velocity than actual RPM. Your fan was likely about 40-50mm.

    I've got 40mm fans that are near silent at 3K RPM. You can get 40mm fans that do 13K.
  • ubercake
    Whether it's the motherboard or the heat sink manufacturers... We're still seeing 3rd-party CPU heat sinks and their fans blocking RAM slots for a decade. There's not much innovation going on here. I would tend to think the heat sink manufacturers need to accommodate the current motherboard designs. If they could solve that part of it in a full-size effective heat sink solution, innovation will have taken place. Until that time we'll keep seeing copper this; nickel-plated that; aluminum fins here; heat pipes there; one fan on this one; two fans on that.

    Same old stuff; different day.
  • Someone Somewhere
    There's only so many ways you can build a MB, or a cooler...
  • Myrkvidr
    @Someone Somwhere: Sorry, there's a copy&paste issue in the 2nd and 4th chart on page5: It should say "CPU temperature at 20°C ambient" while the 1st and 3rd chart are Delta temps.

    @SpadeM: Seems like I just did not RTFM close enough ;) But the measurement results were not affected by using or not using the plastic cap (I ran two separate measurement series). The anchoring plate is sitting very tight - I installed a lot of Thermalright heatsinks during the past couple of weeks. The contact pressure between the True Spirit heatsinks and the CPU is not excessively high, so it shouldn't cause any damage to the CPU.

    @all: We just startet off with the new system for CPU cooler testing and had to start somewhere - there will be more results and coolers coming soon :)
  • mironso
    I hope they will fix this issue with memory in next gen on 140 series.
  • JPNpower
    How does it compare to a hyper 212 no overclock high load i7?
  • WickedPigeon
    Dear TH - If it is possible, could you make a master chart of coolers?

    Your very informative review in July compared 9 large coolers recommended the Noctua's NH-U14S. And I cannot tell if the "Smart Buy" recommendation here makes the Thermalright a better choice or not. Plus the top picks at Newegg are well known models from Cool Master, Zalmen, Noctua and Rosewell.

    I'm really curious how these top models really stack up. Thanks
  • Myrkvidr
    @WickedPigeon: I'm actually working on an article about the Noctua NH-U12S & NH-U14S for Tom's Hardware Germany, so there might be some results for a direct comparison soon.
  • Calculatron
    A nice, simple, basic article. I am not going to complain about it, especially if they keep the format and test set-up for near-future brand-product reviews.

    The fact that the little guy managed to (barely) handle the overclock was a bit surprising, but really cool to see. Thermalright makes good cooling solutions for its customers.

    The noise levels seemed a bit inflated, but then I noticed that they said "distance: 30cm." Using the lazy-man's method of correcting the noise to a distance of 1m, I think that works out to mean we could shave off about 10db from the obtained results. (It's within the ball-park, at least. Using the numbers from another review, the Silverstone AR01 had a difference of 17db.)
  • Myrkvidr
    1294514 said:
    The noise levels seemed a bit inflated, but then I noticed that they said "distance: 30cm."

    Is seems like the bearing of the TR-TY147 is of a better quality compared to the TR-12025-BW and TR-9225-BW, whose bearings are a little more noisy. Anyway, they're still "okay" and you don't have to push the fans towards max rpm ;)
  • RedJaron
    Sorry, I can't see this being a Smart Buy. It looks like the CM-212 outperforms the 120 ( both are similarly priced. ) The 212 and the 140 are probably pretty close, except the 140 is $15 more and 10mm taller. That extra height makes it a lot harder to fit into modest cases. And if you're getting a larger case, chances are you're getting a more demanding system with a larger budget. At that point the D14 or liquid cooling is an option.
  • lagur
    Interesting product but I'm actually expecting some CM Hyper212 EVO, Noctua DH14, Corsair H80 and even stock HSF to include in the benchmarks. To be honest those graphs to me looks completely useless.
  • Oleg Melnikov
    Those tech are so old age , how about some real cooling solutions that cools without struggle ...
  • Steelwing
    I just bought the True Spirit 140 for my new rig a few days ago. It really is a great cooler! The fan isn't dead silent but is fairly quiet. Temps are excellent on my i5-4670k. (I haven't tried overclocking yet.) I was a little worried that it wouldn't fit in my Fractal Design Define R4, but there's enough clearance. I just can't use a fan on the side. Overall I'm quite pleased by its performance.
  • joezkg
    Maybe this one is better than Hyper Evo 212.
  • joezkg
    yeah! but this one is good i thought,because like hyper 212 has an issue regarding to place the two fan, it looks disgusting when it doesnt fit on your mobo due to lack of space,maybe it depends on the type of your mobo. but i think thermaltake answers this...
  • cmi86
    A good article but in my opinion if you want to test a high end cooler test it on something far less thermally proficient like haswell. FX chips cap at 62c, haswell caps at over 100c.
  • skaz
    Good to see this company still rocking in the heatsink market. My venomous X is holding strong still.
  • ericjohn004
    Steelwing, how can you be please with this coolers performance if you haven't even overclocked with it yet? It seems that the only purpose of getting a cooler like this is for overclocking and you haven't overclocked.... How can you possibly know if the cooler is good or not?